NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2024

The latest on the Oilers and Panthers, the fallout from the Capitals’ purchase of Cap Friendly, the latest assistant coach hirings, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers are putting on a brave face despite being down 2-0 to the Florida Panthers in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. “It’s supposed to be hard and I’m excited to see what our group is made of,” said team captain Connor McDavid. “I’m excited to see us fight through adversity and I’m looking forward to people doubting us again.”

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

The Oilers have had to overcome adversity during the regular season and in this postseason. They sank to 31st overall in November, were on the verge of elimination in their second-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, and were down 2-1 to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final.

McDavid’s bold words aside, the Oilers face a daunting challenge getting back into this series after the Panthers shut down their vaunted offense in the first two games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Game 3 on Thursday could be the most consequential of this Stanley Cup Final.

If the Oilers win, they’re back in the series and have a chance to tie it in Game 4, building momentum that could carry them to the franchise’s first Cup since 1990.

Should they lose Game 3, however, they face long odds of overcoming a 0-3 deficit. Only four clubs have done that in NHL playoff history and only one (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) has done it in the Stanley Cup Final.

TSN: Oilers star Leon Draisaitl avoided supplemental discipline for his high hit on Aleksander Barkov in Game 2 that forced the Panthers captain from the game.

Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday that Barkov “wasn’t worse” but will undergo a full assessment on Wednesday. Maurice suggested his captain could play in Game 3 if he continues to progress.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl left his feet and struck Barkov in the jaw. It was an uncharacteristic hit by the Oilers star. Nevertheless, he likely would’ve received postgame discipline from the league had the incident occurred during a regular-season game.

SPORTSNET: Oilers forward Sam Carrick was fined $2.2K for slashing Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s department of player safety called it “slashing” because they can’t find a formal phrase for “nut shot”.

TORONTO SUN: profiles some of the notable stories in the new book “My Day With The Cup” by author/sportscaster Jim Lang. It profiles stories from many subjects (mostly since 1995) describing their “short and sweet” designated day with hockey’s holy grail. Most stories are about spending time with family and friends that run the gamut from heartwarming to hilarious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve got this one on my Kindle wish list and look forward to making it part of my vacation reading later this summer.

TSN: A survey by the market research company Leger found that 58 percent of Canadians polled aren’t paying close attention to the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. 35 percent aren’t following the series at all while 24 percent said they wouldn’t follow it closely.

Fifty-eight percent of Albertans are the most likely following the series because of the Oilers. 53 percent of Atlantic Canadians are also following the series, 42 percent in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are interested with 70 percent of Quebecers being the most disinterested.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There is no such thing as “Canada’s Team” when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup. Most Canadian hockey fans prefer to support their favorite team, which for some isn’t Canadian-based. Here in Atlantic Canada, for example, there are a lot of Boston Bruins fans.

The number of Canadian hockey fans interested in the Stanley Cup Final would be higher if the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens were among the participants. They’re Original Six teams with over a century of hockey history and widespread support throughout Canada.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman offered further insight into why the Washington Capitals purchased the popular Cap Friendly website and why the site won’t remain public following the completion of the sale on July 5. (Stick tap to Sammi Silber for this report).

Friedman said the Capitals purchased Cap Friendly for internal reasons rather than profit. It was cheaper to buy it rather than hire people and invest time and resources in building a hockey salary database.

According to Friedman, the Capitals couldn’t keep the site public even if they wanted to. The NHL frowns on the existence of such sites, even though they should be doing it themselves. “They consider it propriety information,” he said. Nevertheless, he explained some teams are scrambling to find an alternative once Cap Friendly goes dark.

Silber believes alternative salary-cap sites such as Puck Pedia and Sportrac will receive more attention going forward.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Jonathan Bailey cited Friedman listing several teams he believes have backup plans when Cap Friendly goes offline. “Seattle…New Jersey, Carolina, I heard Chicago…Islanders…Toronto…Columbus, and Pittsburgh.”

TORONTO STAR: Bruce Arthur believes the NHL’s unwillingness to make player salary information available on their website shows how the league’s brain trust is out of touch with today’s hockey fans.

Arthur cited league commissioner Gary Bettman’s comments in 2015 dismissing the notion of the league running a salary-cap website, expressing his belief that fans weren’t that interested. The popularity of Cap Friendly and its predecessor CapGeek suggests otherwise.

Because of the NHL’s hard salary cap, fans want to know how their favorite teams spend their money. The media also uses that information to write better-informed pieces about the NHL.

Allowing high-information fans and media to understand the league leads to more and better conversation about the league,” writes Arthur. “That’s good for the game, too.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is what happens when dinosaurs run your professional sports league. The NHL is still controlled by an old-boy network whose ideology remains rooted in the previous century. They take their fans for granted, refusing to believe they’re interested in salary information despite all the contrary evidence.

The NHL may prefer salary information be kept private, but they have themselves to blame for the fans’ desire to know more about it. They killed an entire season to implement their hard cap system. As Arthur pointed out, how your favorite team spends its salary-cap payroll each year is integral to how well they can compete. Fans naturally want to know if their teams can afford to acquire or retain players.


CALGARY SUN: The Flames hired former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen as an assistant coach.

NHL.COM: Former Chicago Blackhawks bench boss Jeremy Colliton joins the New Jersey Devils as an assistant coach.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins are reportedly hiring David Quinn as an assistant coach. He spent the past two seasons as head coach of the San Jose Sharks. Before that, Quinn spent three seasons as the New York Rangers’ bench boss.

TSN: The sexual assault case of five former members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior team is set to return to court on Aug. 13 to potentially set a date for trial.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – June 7, 2024

The Flames and Devils revisit their Jacob Markstrom trade talks, the latest on Jake Guentzel and Juuse Saros, plus a recent update on the Penguins in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported the Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils renewed their trade discussions regarding Jacob Markstrom. The two teams were reportedly close to a trade in February that would’ve shipped the 34-year-old goaltender to the Devils but the deal fell through.

LeBrun claims Markstrom is willing to waive his no-movement clause to go to New Jersey. He also indicated the Flames are getting calls from other clubs about the veteran netminder. LeBrun said there remains a difference of opinion on the return and what it would cost the Devils to land Markstrom.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (NHL Images).

One holdup during their previous discussions was the Flames’ unwillingness to retain part of Markstrom’s $6 million annual salary cap hit through 2025-26. LeBrun also suggested the Boston Bruins’ Linus Ullmark and the Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson could also be options for the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald is keen to land a reliable starting goaltender this summer. He’s got a few options but his preference is for Markstrom.

In February, there was talk that the Flames sought a first-round pick, a top prospect like Seamus Casey, and a young NHL player like Alexander Holtz or Dawson Mercer. Fitzgerald is willing to move his 2024 first-rounder (10th overall) and could part with Holtz but not Mercer. He could also be reluctant to part with Casey.


SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng noted that Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek recently made an admittedly wild prediction suggesting the Sharks could sign Jake Guentzel. The 29-year-old Carolina Hurricanes winger can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Peng noted the Sharks have plenty of cap space and need to surround promising players like Macklin Celebrini (whom they’re expected to select first overall in this year’s draft) with veteran players. However, he believes they’ll find more affordable options than Guentzel, who probably isn’t interested in signing with a rebuilding club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be this summer’s biggest free-agent surprise if Guentzel joined the Sharks. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.


NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: Clay Brewer cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting the Juuse Saros camp could wait and see what kind of contract goaltender Igor Shesterkin receives from the New York Rangers as a baseline for their contract talks this summer.

Saros and Shesterkin both have a year remaining on their respective contracts. They’re allowed to sign extensions starting on July 1.

Friedman believes Shesterkin is set to become the highest-paid goaltender in NHL history. He believes Saros’ agent could seek 75 to 80 percent of what the Rangers netminder gets. Saros is currently earning an average annual value of $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The highest-paid goaltender is the Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price with an AAV of $10.5 million. Shesterkin’s next deal could be between $11 million and $12 million annually.

Assuming Shesterkin receives $11.5 million annually on his next deal, the Saros camp could seek between $8.6 million and $9.2 million for their client.


THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi recently reported contract extension talks between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby are expected to intensify soon, perhaps during this week’s NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo.

Both sides are believed to be proceeding as though Crosby’s contract will be finalized this summer. Whether that happens on July 1 or soon afterward depends on how many roster changes management has in store for the coming weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby will sign an extension this summer and finish his playing career with the Penguins.

Rossi also reported that league sources said Penguins GM Kyle Dubas is trying to move winger Reilly Smith. He’d prefer a hockey trade and doesn’t want to retain salary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a possibility but the return might not make the Penguins better. This could become a case where two teams swap players who didn’t pan out last season, hoping that the change of scenery helps them regain their form.

Dubas isn’t shopping Tristan Jarry but there’s a sense around the league that the 29-year-old goaltender is available. The Penguins are prepared to carry Jarry if they don’t find a deal that directly or indirectly (by clearing cap space) brings in a top-four winger or a top-four defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It looks like Jarry will be back with the Penguins next season.

The Penguins GM doesn’t see much of a trade market for defenseman Ryan Graves without retaining a significant chunk of his cap hit. It’s hoped that he bounces back next season with fewer expectations as a bottom-pairing option.

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – June 4, 2024

Check out the latest on Mitch Marner, Sam Reinhart, Jake Guentzel, and more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports nothing new regarding the future of Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner. He and his agent haven’t put together a list of trade destinations. The 27-year-old winger is focused on finishing his contract with the Leafs and seeing how things go. LeBrun also doesn’t think there’s an appetite to discuss a contract extension this summer.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates Marner’s situation could play out in Toronto next season. While acknowledging there’s a lot of time between now and then and things could change, Friedman described it as a “delicate conversation between player and team because everyone is determined to look like a winner here.”

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

If the Leafs are to trade Marner, Friedman believes it must make a major impact, either with assets or in cap room that would allow the club to make another significant transaction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner’s contract is the complicating factor here. He carries a hefty $10.9 million cap hit that will be difficult to move even with the cap rising to a projected $87.7 million for 2024-25. He also has a full no-movement clause which he seems unwilling to waive.

We can’t rule out the Leafs getting an offer they can’t refuse from a team that Marner would consider an acceptable trade destination. However, it’s starting to sound like a slim possibility.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre Lebrun reports the Florida Panthers will have little time to get their pending UFAs such as Sam Reinhart signed between the end of the Stanley Cup Final and the start of free agency on July 1. Both sides profess a strong mutual desire to get an extension done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Score’s Josh Wegman cited Evolving-Hockey projecting Reinhart to sign an eight-year deal with an average annual value of $11.13 million to stay in Florida. That would make him the Panthers’ highest-paid player. Aleksander Barkov and Sergei Bobrovsky currently hold that honor with AAVs of $10 million.

The Panthers and Reinhart could agree to an eight-year deal worth the same AAV as Barkov and Bobrovsky or a smidgen less. Whatever the cost, it’ll take a big chunk out of the Panthers’ projected cap space of $20.8 million for 2024-25.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox also weighed in on the Panthers’ upcoming tricky free-agent situation involving several of their core players.

Fox noted that Panthers general manager Bill Zito prioritized re-signing defenseman Gustav Forsling over Brandon Montour. “Perhaps because Montour began the season injured. More likely because his current cap hit of $3.5 million should double soon, and we may be watching his final shifts in Florida.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zito must shed some salary to re-sign Reinhart and Montour. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons recently claimed the Panthers intend to retain both players and could trade Aaron Ekblad and his $7.5 million cap hit and use the savings on Montour. I don’t put much stock into that scenario given Ekblad’s value to the Panthers.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the Carolina Hurricanes are continuing contract discussions with Jake Guentzel. They’d like to re-sign the pending UFA winger but LeBrun indicates Guentzel could test the market on July 1 while keeping the Hurricanes as an option.

LeBrun’s colleague Josh Yohe was asked if the Pittsburgh Penguins will try to reacquire Guentzel.

Yohe isn’t ruling it out but noted that Guentzel was “pretty angry” about the Penguins trading him and angrier that they didn’t make a legitimate attempt at a contract extension. He anticipates the 29-year-old winger could get $9 million annually on a six-year deal and doesn’t see the Penguins making that pitch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Kyle Dubas could’ve re-signed Guentzel but didn’t seem interested. It’s unlikely he’ll try to bring him back.


THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: That’s the question Lia Assimakopoulos included among her Stars’ offseason storylines following their elimination from the Western Conference Final.

Duchene was signed last summer to a one-year, $3 million contract after being bought out by the Nashville Predators. Tanev was acquired before the March trade deadline. Both are eligible to become UFAs on July 1.

The pair fit in well with the Stars roster, playing crucial roles in their march to the Western Conference Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have a projected cap space of $15.9 million next season with 13 active roster players under contract. There might not be enough room for Duchene and Tanev unless they can free up additional cap space.

NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – May 23, 2024

The latest on the Bruins, an update on Hurricanes forward Martin Necas and recent speculation about Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told reporters his club intends to be aggressive this summer as they search to address their need for help among their forward lines.

Conroy noted Sweeney sounds like he’ll focus on adding depth among his wingers. “I have to be able to find some players that can come in and provide secondary scoring for us,” he said.

Bruins president Cam Neely said the Bruins weren’t as fast as they’d like to be and must win more 50-50 puck battles.

Conroy noted some very good wingers could be available in this summer’s free-agent market. They include Carolina’s Jake Guentzel, Florida’s Sam Reinhart, Detroit’s Patrick Kane, Winnipeg’s Tyler Toffoli and Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have more wiggle room this summer, carrying a projected cap space of $23.5 million for next season with 15 active roster players under contract. They have room to make a splash in the free-agent market.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk (NHL Images).

Meanwhile, contract talks between Sweeney and Jake DeBrusk’s agent have stalled. The Bruins GM said he sees a path for the 27-year-old winger’s return but added that negotiations “are a two-way street.” He also pointed out that DeBrusk has the right as a pending unrestricted free agent to explore the market on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy contacted DeBrusk’s agent, Rick Valette, but he hadn’t heard back regarding the winger’s intentions. He’s coming off a two-year contract with an average annual value of $4.4 million and will seek a more lucrative long-term contract.

Whether DeBrusk gets it from the Bruins remains to be seen. He won’t have to wait for long to sign with a new club. The Utah franchise could be among the suitors if he’s available on July 1.

Sweeney also indicated that he’s hopeful of making the math work in re-signing Jeremy Swayman whereby the Bruins can also retain Linus Ullmark for next season. “If we can’t, we’re going to explore,” he said, noting that he expects to receive inquiries about Ullmark, who has a year left on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Swayman is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He’s coming off a one-year, arbiter-award contract worth $3.475 million. Swayman could cost the Bruins over $6 million annually on a seven or eight-year deal.

That would leave the Bruins with over $11 million tied up in two goaltenders. They could clear $5 million from their books by trading Ullmark. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility and has a 16-team no-trade list until July 1, when it drops to 15 teams.  If the Bruins get a satisfactory trade offer, Ullmark will be moved this summer.

THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa recently pondered whether the Bruins should pursue Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl this summer if he becomes available or wait until he becomes a UFA next summer.

Draisaitl, 28, has a year remaining on his contract. He’ll command a big raise on his next deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl’s contract status will make him a hot topic of speculation this summer if he and the Oilers fail to agree to a contract extension.

Recent conjecture suggested the Bruins could be interested in Draisaitl to address their need for an elite center. The latest rumor claims the 28-year-old Oilers forward would be interested in joining the Bruins next summer to center his buddy David Pastrnak.

The Bruins’ limited trade capital makes them unlikely to win any bidding war for Draisaitl if the Oilers decide to trade him this summer.

Signing Draisaitl as a UFA will likely cost over $15 million annually. The Bruins have a projected $47 million in cap room for 2025-26 with seven active players under contract. However, that will shrink considerably once they make their necessary signings and additions this summer. They might not have enough by next summer to outbid other clubs for Draisaitl’s services.


THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander wondered if Martin Necas will return with the Carolina Hurricanes next season. The 25-year-old forward is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, making him the subject of media trade chatter.

Necas departed Carolina soon after the Hurricanes’ elimination from the playoffs to play for Czechia in the ongoing IIHF World Championships. His father said his son wants to play on a team where he’ll play on the top line and top power-play unit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s assumed the Hurricanes will attempt to trade Necas, probably in the days leading up to the 2024 NHL Draft (June 28-29) in Las Vegas. The Montreal Canadiens reportedly inquired about his availability. The Utah franchise is another club that might have an interest in Necas.


PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel recently pondered whether the Penguins will re-sign Marcus Pettersson or use the 28-year-old defenseman. He’s entering the final season of his five-year contract ($4.025 million AAV) and carries an eight-team no-trade list.

Pettersson put up a career-high 30 points in 82 games this season and led the Penguins with a plus/minus of plus-28. Noting management’s shift toward moving veterans for younger assets, Vensel wondered if Pettersson could suffer the same fate as Jake Guentzel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson would be a player the Penguins would prefer to retain if they were still a serious contender. However, they could shop him this summer while his value is high or peddle him before next season’s trade deadline.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2024

The Panthers and Stars advance to the Conference Finals, the Maple Leafs hire Craig Berube as head coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year after defeating the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 of their second-round series, taking the series four games to two. Gustav Forsling broke a 1-1 tie with 1:33 remaining in the third period. Anton Lundell also scored for the Panthers and assisted on Forsling’s goal while Sergei Bobrovsky made 22 saves for the win. Pavel Zacha scored and Jeremy Swayman stopped 26 shots for the Bruins. It’s the second consecutive year they’ve been eliminated by the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Florida did a superb job smothering Boston’s offense in this series. After a series-opening 5-1 victory, the Bruins scored two goals or less in each of the next five games. The Panthers’ penalty-killers limited their opponent to one power-play goal in the series.

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov briefly left the game in the third period after blocking a David Pastrnak shot with his left hand. He returned and completed the game, telling reporters afterward that he “felt great”.

Brad Marchand’s return to the lineup for Game 6 couldn’t prevent the Bruins’ elimination. If not for Swayman’s outstanding goaltending, this series wouldn’t have gone as long as it did. Bruins fans chanted his name in gratitude, moving the 25-year-old to tears. He wasn’t helped by his penalty killers, who gave up six goals in this series.

The Panthers will face the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 1 in New York on Wednesday, May 22, at 8 pm EDT.

Dallas Stars forward Matt Duchene (NHL Images).

Dallas Stars forward Matt Duchene scored in double overtime to lift his club to a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of their second-round series, eliminating the Avs in six games. Stars captain Jamie Benn tied the game in the third period after the Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on Mikko Rantanen’s second-period goal. Jake Oettinger finished with 29 saves for the Stars while Avs goaltender Alexandar Georgiev turned aside 36. The Stars advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive year and await the winner of the Edmonton Oilers-Vancouver Canucks series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dallas appeared to score in the first overtime but Mason Marchment’s goal was overturned following a league-initiated review after it was initially waved off. The claim was Duchene interfered with Avalance goalie Alexandar Georgiev but the Stars forward was outside the crease and was bumped by Avs defenseman Cale Makar. Despite winning the game and series, the Stars remained puzzled by the call.

The Stars got the win without center Roope Hintz. He missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury.

Roster depth made the difference in this series. Colorado Hockey Now’s Evan Rawal indicated four Avalanche forwards had more ice time in Game 6 than the Stars’ forward leader in ice time. The Avs couldn’t match the Stars’ overall depth in this series.


TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs announced Friday that Craig Berube is their new head coach. Berube spent five seasons with the St. Louis Blues, coaching them to the Stanley Cup in 2019. Fired by the Blues in December, Berube becomes the 40th head coach in Leafs history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube has a reputation as a straightforward, no-nonsense bench boss with little patience for players who don’t adhere to his game plan or put in a full effort. It will be interesting to see how well the Leafs players react under his guidance.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers need more production from captain Connor McDavid and winger Zach Hyman to stave off elimination tonight in Game 6 of their second-round series with the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid has one assist in his last three games while Hyman has been held off the score sheet over the same period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give credit where it’s due, the Canucks have done a good job shutting down McDavid and Hyman. It’s not because of a lack of effort by those two.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet said it would be a stretch to expect Thatcher Demko to return to action in Game 6. Demko’s been sidelined by a lower-body injury following Game 1 of their first-round series with the Nashville Predators. Arturs Silovs is expected to get his ninth straight start for the Canucks.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers hope their layoff until Wednesday’s start of the Eastern Conference Finals will benefit sidelined forwards Filip Chytil and Blake Wheeler. Chytil played in Game 3 but missed the remainder of their series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Wheeler was taken off long-term injury reserve after participating in full practices with his teammates this week.

CAP FRIENDLY: The 2024 second-round pick the Carolina Hurricanes sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Jake Guentzel trade does not become a first-rounder because Carolina failed to reach this year’s Stanley Cup Final. The Hurricanes also retain their 2025 fifth-round pick.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils signed enforcer Kurtis MacDermid to a three-year contract extension with an average annual value of $1.15 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is in response to the Rangers, a close division rival, having Matthew Rempe on their roster. He’s also well-liked by his teammates.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2024

The Avalanche force Game 6 with the Stars, updates on the other second-round series, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Dallas Stars 5-3 in Game 5 of their best-of-seven second-round series. Cale Makar scored twice (including the game-winning goal) and Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche. Joe Pavelski scored his first of this postseason and added an assist for the Stars, who hold a 3-2 lead in the series. Game 6 is in Denver on Friday, May 17 at 10 pm EDT.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong bounce-back effort by the Avalanche following their disastrous performance in Game 4. Makar and MacKinnon rose to the occasion, providing the leadership and clutch play expected of them. The Avs got a boost on the blueline with defenseman Devon Toews returning to action after an illness sidelined him in Game 4.

The Stars have the best road record (4-1) in this postseason but they’ve struggled at home, winning three of seven contests in Dallas. They also missed center Roope Hintz, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 4.


THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson seems to have few answers to address his lack of production in this postseason. Head coach Rick Tocchet admits his wingers haven’t helped but felt Pettersson can drive the play more. Pettersson insists it’s not for lack of effort but acknowledges only he can control what he does on the ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson can play harder but he’s not being helped with low-scoring forwards like Ilya Mikheyev and Sam Lafferty as his wingers.

SPORTSNET: Tocchet had some good news about Thatcher Demko. The Canucks starting goalie has been sidelined by a lower-body injury since suiting up in Game 1 of their first-round series with the Nashville Predators. Tocchet said Demko has “improved immensely the last 72 hours”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have relied on third-stringer Arturs Silovs, who backstopped the Canucks over the Predators in the first round and has been solid in their current series with the Edmonton Oilers. No word if Demko will return to action in this series but there’s speculation he might get the nod for Game 6.

Speaking of goaltenders, Edmonton Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch is keeping mum as to whether Stuart Skinner or Calvin Pickard gets the start for Game 5 tonight. Pickard replaced the struggling Skinner in Game 3 and got the start (and the win) in Game 4.

NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce has returned to practice with his teammates. He’s been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Game 2 of their first-round series with the New York Islanders. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t rule out Pesce’s return if the blueliner felt he was good to go. The Hurricanes are down 3-2 in their series with the New York Rangers with the two clubs facing off tonight in Game 6.

NEW YORK POST: After losing their last two games to the Hurricanes, the Rangers could shake up their defense corps for Game 6. During practice on Wednesday, K’Andre Miller was reunited with Jacob Trouba while Braden Schneider was back with Erik Gustafsson.


NHL.COM: Utah goaltender Connor Ingram is this season’s winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He nearly retired due to obsessive-compulsive disorder and lingering depression before seeking help through the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program in 2021. Ingram had a career-best performance this season, sporting a 23-21-6 record with a 2.91 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage and six shutouts.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Three Penguins recently underwent surgery. Kris Letang had an operation on May 10 to repair a fractured left finger and will require eight weeks of recovery. Blueliner John Ludvig is sidelined for four to six months following surgery in April on a damaged extensor tendon in his left wrist. Winger Matt Nieto will be out for six-to-seven months following surgery on the MCL in his left knee.

THE TENNESSEAN: Former Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne will be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on July 20. He spent the entirety of his 15-season NHL career with the Predators, winning 30-plus games eight times. Rinne was a four-time finalist for the Vezina Trophy, winning it in 2018.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks are reportedly considering Jeff Blashill as their next head coach. He coached the Detroit Red Wings from 2015 to 2022 and spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Los Angeles Kings signed backup goaltender David Rittich to a one-year, $1 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings are expected to go shopping for a starting goaltender in this summer’s trade market. They reportedly attempted to acquire Boston Bruins netminder Linus Ullmark before the March trade deadline but it’s believed he used his no-trade clause to spike the deal.

CBS NEWS: A Native American woman who worked for the Chicago Blackhawks is suing the club and its charity for breach of oral contract, fraud and sexual harassment. Nina Sanders said she was brought in to build relationships between the team and the Native American community but was later pushed out.